“I Totally Cheat at Yoga”

I saw this magnet at a card store a few weeks ago.    When I read it, I chuckled.   I found it kind of funny, the very idea that we could possibly cheat at yoga.   But we can.

And we do.  Don’t we?  But that’s okay, as long as we are mindful of when we are doing it.

Whenever we aren’t focused and present in a pose.   When our monkey mind is off and running, and we’re not concentrating on our breath.   When we’re thinking about what the pose felt like yesterday, or what it could look like four months from now. Cheating.

And the more we know about a yoga pose, the more likely we are to cheat.

When we’re first introduced to yoga, we learn to stand at the top of our mat in Tadasana, Mountain Pose.   Now, just about anyone can stand at the top of a mat in Mountain Pose, and look like a Damn Fine Mountain.   Simple, right?

But if we are not standing as tall as we can, with the top of the head reaching to the ceiling, if the shoulders are not traveling down our backs, if the side body is not extended and long, if the fingers aren’t shooting energy down to the ground, if the tailbone isn’t slightly tucked,  if the knee caps aren’t lifted, and the thigh muscles are not engaged,  if all four corners of the feet aren’t grounded into the earth,  we are cheating.

Mountain Pose is A LOT of freakin’ work!

Every time we take a yoga class, our teachers regurgitate these same cues, in different words, in different voices.  We hear them so often, that we sometimes don’t listen to them.  But they are there to remind us of the rules of the game, to keep us honest.  To stop us from cheating.

We have a choice.  We can move through the poses, go through the motions, doing our time on our mats, or we can be actively engaged, present, and mindful every step of the way.   We can reap the benefits of a mindful practice in our bodies and in our minds, or we can settle for a little exercise.

We can choose to listen to the cues, with a beginner’s mind.  Focus all of our attention on the breath.  Engage all of the muscles that we can. Do all of the work that is necessary.   Honor the poses.  Give it our all, and try our absolute best, whatever our personal best is in that very moment.

Or we can choose not to.  And when we choose not to, we should at least be mindful of the fact that we are cheating ourselves.

I went back to the store today and bought the magnet.

It’s on my fridge.

Another great place for mindfulness.

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